Berkeley, Calif.—Like a rock star, journalist Carmen Aristegui was received with a long applause in the crowded Sibley auditorium at U.C. Berkeley on April 21.
The award-winning Mexican journalist was invited by Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism and the local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ UCB) to talk about the Mexican perception of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president.
Aristegui began the talk by saying that during the third part of the event, many questions would be asked and that they would surely remain unanswered. And so it was. One of the last questions she was asked was whether she believed there would be a change in Mexico as a result of the 2018 elections.
“What nobody believed possible is a reality today,” Aristegui said of President Trump, whom she called an unusual character. And with a playful and ironic tone, which she kept throughout the talk, she said that the most important thing regarding the Mexican perspective on Trump is that Trump has already opened so many cans of worms in other parts of the world that he may forget topics such as the border wall and immigrants.
“Maybe Korea will draw a little more attention,” Aristegui joked, referencing the recent tensions with North Korea and getting the audience to laugh. “It is a tragedy, but it does not stop being an advantage.”
But Aristegui made clear that Trump’s presidency is no laughing matter for the United States’ neighbor. “It has been one hundred days of Donald Trump’s government where he has insulted, assaulted and threatened Mexico.”
In an interview with Univisión 14, one day before the U.C. Berkeley event, Aristegui called Trump’s idea of building a border wall between Mexico and the United States a “great political stupidity.” In Berkeley she added that the additional two thousand miles of fencing would be a “uselessness,” one that Mexico, obviously, will not pay for.
“Unless someone here has a different idea and we can all begin to pitch in,” said Aristegui, provoking laughter again.
The journalist, who has won a María Moors Cabot Prize and the Knight International Journalism Award, also spoke about other issues such as corruption and the death of journalists in Mexico.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lowell Bergman, who led the question session, asked Aristegui why so many journalists in Mexico are killed and without consequence?
“Because Mexico is a country of impunity,” Aristegui replied, noting that it is not only the deaths of journalists. “There is a great tolerance for abuse, corruption and violence. That nothing happens when journalists are murdered is just a trait of what happens with a thousand more deaths that are also handled with impunity.”
At one point in the conversation, which was conducted in Spanish with a simultaneous English translation, Aristegui asked how many in the audience spoke Spanish, and a large majority raised their hands.
A Mexican mother, who came to the event with her 10-year-old daughter told her little girl that she had taken her to meet a flesh-and-blood “super heroine,” one better than the in the comics. The little girl said she liked the lecture.
Aristegui stressed the importance of demonstrations organized by immigrants against Trump’s policies.
“We believe that this demonstration that is being organized for May 1 could be an important demonstration of muscle, a living expression of American society that means here we are and are part of what happens here,” she said. “The threat of Donald Trump against documented or undocumented immigrants can also be a huge opportunity where he triggers an organization that translates into greater strength in this country.”
Aristegui has an optimistic view about the future of immigrants despite Trump’s policies.
“If it’s a game of strength, I think the migrants will win.”
Aristegui’s program, which runs Monday through Friday via AristeguiNoticias.com, was presented from the Bay Area for two days with the help of Berkeley journalism students and members of the local NAHJ group.
In 2015 the Aristegui team won the Gabriel García Márquez Award for the report of La casa blanca, which made the Mexican government of President Enrique Peña Nieto tremble.
Story by: Maria Antonieta Mejia